Monthly Archives: November 2011

No Need to “Fall Back” on Mars

If you remembered to set your clocks last night to “fall back” for the return to standard time, then you enjoyed an extra hour of sleep this morning.  ABC News makes some  dubious claims in a recent article, Daylight Savings Time Ends This Weekend, and It’s Healthy:

…many doctors say the return to standard time — and the extra hour of sleep you get in the morning — can be healthy.

Uh, we’re talking about one morning, right?  Or are the authors under the impression that we get an extra hour every morning that standard time is in effect?  Of course, the extra hour in the fall (and the corresponding loss of an hour in the spring) is the function of the switch from one convention to the other, and is not inherent to either.

Personally I prefer daylight savings time, as I find an hour of sunlight more useful in the evening than in the morning.  Who works in the yard or plays catch with the kids at the crack of dawn, versus after work?  My preference would be to go with DST year around.

The article did provide me with an insight for getting the perceived benefits of additional sleep every day, regardless of the timekeeping convention.  According to Steven Feinsilver, director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, we have difficulty with the “spring forward” time change due to biology:

…our basic circadian rhythm (the ‘body clock’) actually seems  to be programmed for a longer than 24 hour day.  It runs a little slow.

Every day on Mars (its rotational period) is 24 hours and 37 minutes long.  Sign me up for that.

To Mars and Back…Sorta

The crew of the Mars500 simulation emerged today in Moscow from 520 days of isolation that began June 3, 2010.

Shortly after ‘landing’

The primary purpose of this simulation was to evaluate a variety of physical and mental impacts of a long-duration space exploration mission, such as the 500+ day journey that a crew would have to withstand for a round-trip mission to Mars.  Study elements included issues related to an actual mission, such as communication delays and a simulated schedule:

During the isolation period, the candidates have been simulating all elements of the Mars mission, traveling to Mars, orbiting the planet, landing and return to Earth.

Of course, not all elements; some things are difficult or impossible to simulate, such as weightlessness or cosmic radiation.  But it is interesting to note ESA chose to exclude one obvious factor that we included in the early exploration missions of In the Shadow of Ares.  Apparently ESA doesn’t believe that women should be included in a mission to Mars.